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Nikolay Tsiskaridze: "There are only three schools of classical ballet in the world: in St Petersburg, in Moscow and in Paris. That's all!"

Nikolay Tsiskaridze, people's artist of Russia, told Olga Bubnova, a TV BRICS correspondent, about the development of ballet schools in Russia, what other regions of Russia will become ballet centers, and what are the relations with foreign ballet universities.

Nikolay Tsiskaridze was born on December 31, 1973 in Georgia.

He studied at first in Tbilisi, then at Moscow Dance School. In 1996, he graduated from the pedagogical faculty of the Choreographic Institute. He rehearsed under the guidance of ballet masters: Galina Ulanova and Nikolai Fadeyechev.

During his study at the Institute, Tsiskaridze was accepted into the troupe of the Bolshoi Theatre. He started with the corps de ballet, but soon he began to dance solo parts in "Nutcracker" and "Sleeping Beauty".

In 2004, he began teaching at the Moscow Academy of Choreography.

Today, Nikolay Tsiskaridze is the rector of the Academy of Russian Ballet named after A. Ya. Vaganova.

Nikolay Maksimovich, Good Afternoon! You are engaged in the development of ballet schools in Russia. In 2016, the first ballet class of the Academy of Russian Ballet named after Vaganova began its work in Vladivostok, and how is the training going now? Under your patronage?

I was the first person who organized this, who created all this by order of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. At the beginning of this year, he appreciated my contribution very much at one of the meetings that I did not attend. I was particularly pleased that he named me as an example. He said that he was amazed by the results of my work. This was the highest praise for me, because it seemed to me that the head of state could not know about such things. I repeatedly communicated with him about this, specifically when I was establishing it in Vladivostok, but I did not know that he knew every detail thereof, afterwards I found it out.

Now all this is under the patronage of the Moscow Academy of Choreography, my educational institution, which I once graduated from, my native school. They patronize this, and we patronize now a project called "Talented People", which should improve the skills of our colleagues across the country.

What other regions of Russia will become ballet centers?

Vladivostok, Kemerovo, Kaliningrad, and Sevastopol in the Crimea. Four centers are organized like this. Some huge funds are being invested in this, because these will be very large-scale centers. There will be not only ballet and music schools, but also art schools, which will grow over time.

Foreign students have been trying to get into our ballet schools since Soviet times. And what are the relations with foreign ballet universities now?

We admit only those students, first of all, who are suitable for us by qualification. And, secondly, we are very limited to admit huge numbers of them. Because classes can't be overcrowded to the last degree. They don't want to do separate classes for foreign students, they want to study together with the Russians, and this is very difficult because of the number of classes.

And the second point - despite the fact that we have a giant hostel, it also has a limit. I did my best so that children could live by tow in a room, well, if a room is very large, then by three of them. And when I was given this post, 8 people lived in a room, I do not accept this, I think it is abnormal. Any person should develop in a normal way of life, so we admit a limited number of them - no more than 50-60 people a year.

I know that more Japanese and Koreans than Chinese come to study at the Academy named after Vaganova. What is the reason for this?

Somehow they have a very developed infrastructure. China, unlike Japan, has a public education system. Japan has none. In Japan, there are only 12 free jobs at the Tokyo National Ballet – 12! And in China, in one of the largest cities, I know, there is a school, yes, it is built like a city, where 2 thousand students are admitted to the first class only.

We admit more students than in Europe and the world, and I don't take China - 60 students. And they admit 2 thousand students in one of the cities only! You see? That is why Japan needs it.

Well, in Korea they have paid education up to a certain age. Only after a certain age and after certain successes, it becomes free. Therefore, parents who want to invest in it, who have already money to do it - they want to do it in Russia, and I agree with them.

In general, if someone wants to dance a classical ballet, there are only three schools in the world, I have said this many times – in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Paris. That's all! Others are very good, but these three schools are the oldest schools in the world with their own traditions, pros and cons, and so on, but they are the main centers of classical ballet. It's always been like this for me!

In China, not only the world's classical ballet, but the national one is staged…

It's just their classics, their legends, their mythology and history, and they have a lot of such performances. They are always called like "Princess-Goldfish", or there are some others, for example, "Prince-Nightingale". They have a lot of it, and it is very interesting and beautiful, because it has music of Chinese authors and choreography. Because it is since the 50s, even earlier! Even since the end of the 40s, when Mao Zedong was still there, when Stalin lived, a huge number of dancers were sent there from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

My teacher told me that they were the first, Nikolay Fadeyechev and Maya Plisetskaya, to dance "Swan Lake" there, I don't remember which city, I think, in Beijing. People were sitting on the floor and talking. They didn't applaud, they didn't know what it was to applaud, they could talk. In general, it was a "wild" country, there were no such gigantic theaters. The Soviet Union made all this there, it instilled this culture.

And then they, our teachers and choreographers, worked there for decades, then it all grew up there.

Your classical dance teacher, Pyotr Antonovich Pestov, was quite a tough man. Later you thanked him for this strictness many times.

This is my last teacher, Pyotr Antonovich Pestov. Unfortunately, all my teachers were very strict, I never had any good souls, as I can say. I thanked them for their strictness, because they brought up hard work in me, a careful attitude to this profession.

What I have achieved in my life, I have achieved thanks to what they had taught me! And this art - neither classical ballet, nor top-class sports - can't be without serious methods of pressure. Why pressure? A child must overcome his/her capabilities at some moment in order to improve more and more. To learn endurance, to learn concentration, it is very difficult, and here, unfortunately, lisping does not work.

One person can say something in a whisper so that the current will pass through someone's body; and another person will shout; it depends on the nature of the teacher. I had very tough teachers in the theater. I am very grateful to them for that strictness because it was kind of love.

I always explain that the "stick" in the ballet is the "carrot". When you are not paid attention, you are out of competition: that's all, no one bets on you! And if there is a "stick", then they bet on you and deal with you.

And do you think that this core, this strictness is the success of the Russian ballet school?

Not only, but also in the methodology, in the fact that ballet is taught here as much as the lawn is watered and mowed in England. We, the Russian school of ballet, have existed longer than the United States as a state. Nothing more to say.

Thank you very much, Nikolay Maksimovich. Thank you for taking the time.

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